Love this lingerie? You can share it on social media with the links below! Find more in the accompanying book.
Rayon was marketed as “artificial silk” upon its introduction early in the twentieth century. As a less costly alternative to silk, it was frequently used for inexpensive fashions in the 1920s. Rayon’s appeal broadened during the following decade, when high-end designers such as Elsa Schiaparelli began to recognize its potential.1 Because rayon has a supple drape and is comfortable on the skin, it also became a popular fabric for lingerie.
Rayon was essential when silk and cotton became scarce during World War II.2 This rayon lounging robe, from about 1942, was sold at the upmarket New York clothing store Jay Thorpe. Some lingerie manufacturers from this time decreed that robes were “necessary” to women’s wardrobes, as they could be worn for nighttime air raids.3 While this robe is simply designed, details such as the beautifully scalloped, hand-finished sleeves are subtly luxurious.
1. Dilys E. Blum, Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2003), 34.
2. Farid Chenoune, Hidden Underneath: A History of Lingerie (New York: Assouline, 2005), 84.
3. Jill Fields, An Intimate Affair: Women, Lingerie and Sexuality (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 256.